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Dear Friends,

In the midst of the hustle and bustle and joy preparing for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Diwali or Winter Solstice)  our hearts are drawn to the refugees at the borders, to those suffering from war or weather around

the world, to those in prison or dealing with mental illness or grief or those for whom this is a difficult season. Someone recently gave us this passage from the Talmud that offers inspiration and challenge:  “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.  Do justly, now.  Love mercy now.  Walk humbly now.  You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

This theme reminds us of Mary in today’s Gospel: she is (even in the midst of the mysteries of her own pregnancy) drawn to think of her cousin Elizabeth and rushes out to be of service to her.  Mary offers us much inspiration.  She embraces the mission God gives her, even though she does not understand how it will happen or all that it implies.  In our lives, too, things often come our way that we do not anticipate or choose, can we take them up with the same trust that Mary had that God will be with us and show us the way.  Elizabeth Johnson says, “Mary entrusted her life to the utterly gracious reality of the Transcendent God to vivify, renew, make holy the world.”  God is inviting you and me to that same partnership in mission.  Mary’s pondering, contemplative heart combined with her ready actions to be of service (to Elizabeth, to the couple at Cana, to the early Christian community, etc.) give us inspiration and propulsion into service.  Elizabeth Johnson in her meditation on Mary and Elizabeth quotes the book of Wisdom: “in every generation, Holy Wisdom passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets.”  Johnson goes on  to reflect, “being God’s friend means that your heart loves the world the way that God loves the world…Mary is blessed among women and men who are themselves blessed.”  These nuggets give us food for thought to munch on in these days of holiness and mystery.

Joining us in pondering mystery and moving to service is Jan Richardson who joins us with a blessing for traveling in the dark, either the political scene around us or the difficulty navigating this busy season when one’s own heart is grieving or finding it difficult to be happy for some other reason.  Her closing words echo the Christmas message: “we are accompanied by the Love that knows our name”:

A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark

Go slow

If you can.

Slower.

More slowly still.

Friendly dark

or fearsome,

this is no place

to break your neck

by rushing,

by running,

by crashing into

what you cannot see.

Then again,

it is true:

different darks

have different tasks,

and if you

have arrived here unawares,

if you have come

in peril

or in pain,

this might be no place

you should dawdle.

I do not know

what these shadows

ask of you,

what they might hold

that means you good

or ill.

It is not for me

to reckon

whether you should linger

or you should leave.

But this is what

I can ask for you:

That in the darkness

there be a blessing.

That in the shadows

there be a welcome.

That in the night

you be encompassed

by the Love that knows

your name.

Jan Richardson

At this holy season, our hearts are full of joy …of gratitude…and of hope that come from the richness of grace we find in our relationship to each of you and in the strength of community we experience at The Spirit of Life.  We pray that these days bring each of you the opportunity to gather with loved ones, family and friends, ‘strangers’ and all ‘people of good will’ and that in these meetings you will find the sense of ‘being held’ that Elizabeth and Mary found in one another.   May each of us find in ourselves a heart open to the giving and receiving that is Christmas…the gift of precious new life being birthed amidst the struggles and challenges that each life holds.  May we receive the grace of openness to new possibilities….new ways of being…and let the Light of Hope and Love  surround and embrace us as we birth that light into the lives of others.  

We wish you a Merrily Blessed Christmas!!  And…we invite you to share in The Spirit of Life Community’s celebration in whatever way possible for you.  All are always welcome!!

With an abundance of loving gratitude for your presence in our lives,

Jean & Ron